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Silence not so golden as Glamorgan reflect on collapse at Lord’s

glamorgan 214 and 191 for 8 (Lloyd 70, Byrom 47, Roland-Jones 3-46) lead mid-sex 390 (Simpson 76, Hollman 58, Harris 5-90) with 15 runs

To understand the full significance of the drama we saw at Lord’s in the latter half of this day, it must be remembered that these are the weeks when the consequences of failure are apparent. In the carefree midsummer months, a team may lose a game and worry a lot about the loss, but the results of their defeat won’t be clear until well into September. But now we’re well into September, the month when the poetry of the end of a season jostles with the prose of the rankings.

Yet the language spoken in the Glamorgan dressing room tonight will not have had any kind of Polish. Indeed, there may have been long periods after tea when the place was filled with long silences and dirty oaths. With David Lloyd’s team conceding a 176 lead to Middlesex in the first innings, the 123 team had collapsed without a loss to 144 for 6 and there is a strong argument that each of the visiting batsmen had played a pretty hideous shot, this at noon when they needed at least a few to be at their best.

Middlesex’s top three seamen, Toby Roland-Jones, Tim Murtagh and Ethan Bamber, had each taken two wickets, but they’ll bowl much better for a tight payoff. The catch had been skillful, with Bamber’s square leg dive attempt to get Eddie Byrom off three balls after tea as a particular highlight. But this was a late afternoon when the Glamorgan collapse was a DIY job. And a quiet dressing room has its own eloquence.

The visitors had started their second innings on an unexpectedly glorious afternoon of mist and glittering splendor. They knew they might have to bat for most of the four sessions to avoid losing this game, and crucial ground, to one of their promotion rivals. Lloyd’s team has played fine cricket this summer, winning five of their 11 games. But their hopes of promotion rested to some extent on batting two days in St John’s Wood.

The stakes were similar for Middlesex. Tim Murtagh’s team had this match under control and the 104 runs that had added their last five wickets this morning had given them a commanding lead. All they had to do now was finish the job and put them 13 points ahead of Glamorgan and 20 points ahead of Derbyshire. It would be a useful advantage with only two games left in the season, but there was a problem: Middlesex have won four championship games in 2022, but none since May 22. The ECB has also played a part: Middlesex have played 11 first-class games this season, but none since July 28, when they tied with Durham; and the home country last played at Lord’s on July 22.

And so Middlesex bowled for at least an hour as if this were an unknown field. Byrom was dropped in the slips of the first ball of the innings, but pretty much the rest of the session was dominated by Glamorgan’s openers, with Lloyd happily feeding on some short, wide stuff to hit nine-fours in his 63-ball fifty. Nine deliveries for the tea, however, the Glamorgan skipper Bamber attempted to escort Bamber between the first and fourth slip, only sending him straight to Sam Robson in last position. It was a one day jeu d’esprit and it fell flat.

As if upset by the loss of their skipper for 70, the rest of Glamorgan’s highest order fell apart in a riot of incompetence. Three balls after Byrom’s dismissal, Sam Northeast played a horrible flat-footed cut and the thin edge was taken by Simpson. Kiran Carlson dug in with Shubman Gill for fifty minutes before losing his temper and making a bizarre swing more suited to a fight in Lord of the Rings to Stevie Eskinazi at the first slip. Billy Root’s sixth ball was on an eighth stump line, but he still tried to drive into it and was caught on a skid by Robson at Bamber.

Glamorgan’s hourly strike from the Black Museum was completed when Gill made a drive to Luke Hollman at some point. James Harris and Chris Cooke then sided with them within a range of parity, but both fell just before light fell. Their only consolation was that Harris’ bat was vertical when he pushed Roland-Jones towards Simpson and Cooke had at least made it hard for the second time in the match when he was previously leg to Higgins.

With five overs left on the day—there was no chance the light would claim the extra eight—the umpires took the players off. By this time, Middlesex officials had come to terms with the cost of a short fourth day of play in front of a very small crowd; Glamorgan is also likely to be reconciled to a grim Thursday.

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the TimeESPNcricinfo, erase, Southport visitor and other publications

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